Climate change targets achievable and affordable, experts say

  • Meeting the Government’s climate change targets is achievable at low cost
  • Technologies required to meet targets already exist
  • Reducing emissions will create new job, business, and export opportunities
  • Most households would see a reduction in their energy bills
  • Action is needed across all sectors of the economy, with a particular focus on transport, agriculture and energy

The Climate Change Commission has laid out an achievable and affordable roadmap for meeting Aotearoa New Zealand’s emission reduction targets that will create new economic opportunities and reduce most household bills.

“Reaching our emissions reduction targets by 2050 is both achievable and affordable according to the Commission’s advice,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Last term we set our long-lived gases and methane targets and asked the Commission for independent guidance on how to get to them. That’s exactly what they have produced. They have also confirmed our goals are achievable if we act decisively and collectively.

“The Commission’s draft advice sets out an achievable blueprint for New Zealand to become a prosperous, low-emissions economy. 

“The positive news is that the Government’s actions to date have laid much of the groundwork for the transition but that more is now required.

“The report demonstrates we have the tools we need to achieve our target, but calls on us to accelerate our work. As a Government we are committed to picking up the pace and focusing much more on decarbonisation and reducing emissions rather than overly relying on forestry.

“The Government is also committed to improving our Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in order to meet our obligations under the Paris Agreement.

“We asked the Commission to review our NDC commitments, as they were originally made in 2015.

“Since that time we have stepped up our ambition as a nation and asked the Commission if our NDCs are in line with our commitment to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. The Commission confirmed they are not and have recommended they be strengthened. On that basis we will begin work to revise them this year. 

“The advice also highlights that the cost of action on the economy is not as great as many have previously thought. In fact action on climate change is an economic opportunity for New Zealand.

“Action on climate change is critical to our ongoing economic success. New Zealand exporters rely on our clean green brand and there will be new opportunities for Kiwi businesses as we adapt to a zero carbon economy.

“Achieving our emissions reduction targets require both an enhanced and sustained response and the Government is committed to that. The Commission’s advice shows we’ve made a good start, highlights the economic opportunities ahead and proves it is both affordable and achievable,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Climate Change Minister, James Shaw said the release of the draft advice was a significant milestone in the Government’s response to the climate emergency.

“Last term we put in place a bold legislative framework to create a climate-friendly, prosperous future for New Zealand. The Commission has now provided draft advice on how best to do that.

“There are two things that stand out from the draft advice – first, that action will be required across all sectors of the economy, and second that meeting our targets is affordable and possible with existing technology.

“There are a series of choices that will need to be made at a Cabinet level about how we reach net-zero carbon emissions and reduce biogenic methane - but when I look at the strategic policy direction the Commission has set out, I am more confident than I have ever been that it can be done.

“And the opportunity ahead of us looks to be huge. A strong, inclusive, and climate-friendly economy that supports our recovery from COVID, creates new jobs, and encourages innovation.

“If we act now, we can join with other leading developed countries to set an example to the rest of the world and show what can be done – the transition to a net-zero carbon economy in a way that gives people good job opportunities and certainty about how they will provide for their families.

“I look forward to hearing what people have to say in response to the draft advice and then working with my colleagues across Government to build a low carbon future for Aotearoa.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Commission for their hard work, analytical honesty and rigour. What they have achieved will have a lasting impact on the type of planet our children inherit from us,” James Shaw said.

 Note to editors

The Commission has proposed the first three five-year emissions budgets. The Commission has also advised that New Zealand’s Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement would need to be strengthened in order to be compatible with global efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C.

The draft advice is now open for consultation until 14 March. Final advice will be released before 31 May. Once the final advice has been received, the Government will respond with an Emissions Reduction Plan before the end of the year, which will set out how the first three emissions budgets will be achieved.